The Proven Ways of Dealing with Female Hair Loss

Hair loss can be caused by a variety of factors but heredity is the number one reason why men and women lose their mane. Hereditary hair loss in men and women has the same main cause, which is a metabolite of the male hormone testosterone, called dihydrotestosterone (DHT) attacking and killing our hair follicles. DHT is also present in the female body. Men and women lose their hair not because of increased levels of DHT in their bodies but due to the susceptibility of their hair follicles to DHT attacks, although the exact mechanism and reasons why certain hairs, mostly those on the top of the head, are more vulnerable to such attacks are not yet know.

The principal difference between the male and female form of hereditary baldness is in its shape. The male form has a characteristic horseshoe pattern whereas the female form is usually a diffuse thinning across the entire scalp and is therefore less easily-recognised. The female form of hereditary hair loss is, in its form, practically indistinguishable from hair loss caused by various other factors. The second most common reason for a woman to lose her hair is hormonal imbalances during and after pregnancy or menopause. Such changes are typically of a temporary nature and so also is the hair loss, although post-menopausal hair loss is in most cases permanent.

When it comes to treating hair loss in women there are certain specifics. First, most females do not make very good candidates for hair transplant surgery due to their diffuse thinning pattern, which makes it impossible to identify the hair that will be resistant to future miniaturisation. Secondly, finasteride, which is one of the only two FDA-approved hair loss treatments available today, cannot be used on women and neither can dutasteride, which is its closest and assumedly yet more powerful relative. Rogaine (generic name minoxidil) is the second FDA-approved hair loss treatment and its approved concentration for women is only 2% versus 5% for men. However, many doctors recommend their female patients use male formulations of minoxidil, with a concentration of 5%. Aminexil is a molecule similar to minoxidil and it is usually recommended to women who are pregnant or breastfeeding as a safer option than minoxidil.

Although some anti-androgens such as finasteride or dutasteride cannot be prescribed to women, there are other anti-androgen medications that can be effectively used to treat female baldness. Spironolactone (trade name Aldactone) and cyproterone acetate (used in contraceptives such as Diane 35, Diane 50 and Ginette 35) are antiandrogens most commonly used to treat female pattern hair loss.

Another treatment with satisfactory rates of success is topical estrogen solutions such as Crinohermal, which use a female hormone, estradiol, as their main active ingredient. Estradiol is capable of inhibiting the conversion of testosterone into follicle-harming DHT. Hormone replacement therapy is another hormonal treatment suitable for women at menopause, with estrogens and progesterone pills and creams being the most common forms of treatment. Estrogen levels in the body decline with time. As women enter the menopause, estrogen levels decline and thus more of the male hormone testosterone is then available to be converted into follicle-harming DHT.

The above list of female hair loss treatments is not exhaustive, though. There are a number of other remedies that are often claimed to help promote hair growth in women, such as alfatradiol, ketoconazole, fluridil, flutamide, as well as different substances of natural origin. Despite the fact that there are female patients who will swear by some of these treatments, none of them has ever been sufficiently clinically studied, let alone approved by any major national health supervisory authority as a treatment for female hair loss and the claims of their guaranteed effectiveness should be taken with a grain of salt.